Wesley’s commitment to sustainability and eco-spirituality is rooted in the passion of its community members, theological curriculum and administration. Since the school relocated from Westminster, Md., to Washington, D.C., in 1958, Wesley’s administration has made it a point to actively consider the institution’s environmental impacts.
“Wesley has always been sensitive to the environment, ecology and the elements of stewardship of Creation,” Vice President for Administration Terry Bradfield said. “We’ve had that within our curriculum and a number of programs and courses are reflective of that. We strive to be an example and learning environment so students who come through our educational programs are able to take lessons learned that they can put into practice wherever they are serving.”
Beginning in June 2017, the campus underwent a major renovation to replace and upgrade inefficient and aging energy systems that were original to the campus. This included replacing the heating and cooling infrastructure throughout the entire campus, replacing single-paned windows with high-efficiency glass and upgrading the energy system to digital controls. The project was completed in late October.
Campus sustainability encompasses more than just a building renovation, however. Wesley began a campus-wide recycling program even before the city’s program officially launched in 1988. The school offers an on-site Zip Car and bike share program to incentivize students not to rely on personal vehicles for transportation. In recent years, the campus switched to a 100 percent wind-generated electricity supplier and is currently replacing all incandescent and fluorescent lightbulbs with LED bulbs to reduce cost and impact.
“These programs have started at the request of students in the community and then have made it into the actual fabric of staff and administrative activities,” Bradfield said. This is all part of maintaining the quality of the institution so it remains an inviting location for students, staff and faculty, he said.
The major renovation that took place from June to October will lead to the most significant cost and energy efficiency savings. “We anticipate that what we have done will amount to about 30 to 35 percent savings in cost for our system overall,” Bradfield said.
Over the course of just four months, Wesley’s infrastructure was converted from its original, steam-generated heating system to a hot water system. The new system relies on natural gas–fired boilers and results in greater energy efficiency, a decrease in fuel usage, and decrease in overall cost.
“This project has allowed us to replace nearly every single component that was here when the campus was built in 1958, so we have almost a brand new campus from an internal infrastructure perspective,” Bradfield said. “Since our core buildings themselves are in great shape, this campus has been renewed and is ready to serve students and the community for another 50 years.”
Despite the significant returns already seen from this investment, the project was not without sacrifices by Wesley’s students, faculty and staff, many of whom were relocated during the months of the project.
“Director of Facilities Randall Adams was our institutional overseer for the project,” Bradfield said. “This was a project that involved virtually our entire campus community — staff, faculty and students. All in all, everybody pitched in and took it in stride. It was an experience of shared endurance and I’m very grateful to everybody.”